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UK Comment: Harmander Singh Is Wrong To Say You Can’t Be A Sikh And Support Equal Marriage

Harry Haller

Panga Master
Jan 31, 2011
Writing for PinkNews.co.uk, Hardeep Singh says the recent anti-equal marriage remarks expressed by the founder and principal adviser of Sikhs in England gives only one view of his religion.
I’m deeply saddened to read these comments by Mr Singh. PinkNews hardly reports on any gay Sikh related issues and when it does, they are of opposition towards homosexuality.
On one hand, Mr Singh is saying he would attend a same-sex reception but he wouldn’t attend the religious ceremony as he doesn’t agree with it. He feels his religion doesn’t agree with homosexuality. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, my opinion is a stark contrast to his. I firmly believe homosexuality within Sikhism can and does exist. It is by no means against the religion, in fact it’s the opposite. As Sikhs we are taught to love others unconditionally, treat all equally regardless of caste, colour or sexual orientation. We are taught to be in loving relationships and raise children. As gay men and lesbian women, we can do all this.
During a Sikh marriage, a hymn is sung called the Lavaan where the couple getting married walk around the Guru Granth Sahib Ji (the Sikhs holy scripture). This hymn does not mention a man marrying a woman, instead it mentions two genderless souls uniting together becoming the bride and God being the groom. Doesn’t this show homosexuality isn’t a problem?
Mr Singh is indirectly comparing homosexuality to sex acts. Simply by stating “The Guru never said that incest was wrong either” shows that he classes Homosexuality in the same category as incest. I pity him. He doesn’t understand the basics of what being gay means. We all know that we don’t choose our sexual orientation, we are the way in which God intended. I accept my sexuality as something God given, something as natural as the long hair on my head.
What right has he to tell us that being a gay Sikh is wrong? Yes the Guru Granth Sahib Ji does not mention homosexuality at all, this infers that it’s open to interpretation. We are taught to follow our beliefs and stride forward even if everyone is against us. This is the foundation to how Sikhism was created in the first place. Guru Nanak Dev Ji didn’t agree with Hinduism or Islam, he found certain aspects treated some people unfairly.
Whilst I strongly refute the comments he has made, it’s important to understand why he thinks the way he does. My opinion is that there has been a huge cultural influence which has polluted his view on Sikhism. If one was to strictly stick to the scriptures, homosexuality wouldn’t be frowned upon by Sikhs. However, culturally, Homosexuality is a taboo subject, very few Sikhs are openly gay and thus homosexuality is seen as a condemned ‘choice’. Sadly some Sikhs believe being gay is a choice! Fortunately if someone is a gay Sikh or wishes to know more about it there are plenty of resources online. From my interviews with homophobes to speaking with elders in my own family, it’s obvious there is only a matter of time until homosexuality will be accepted by all.
A few years ago, marrying outside of Sikhism was a big deal and the brave few who did it, faced many issues. Now, there are more marriages between religions.
Sikhs have a code of conduct called the Rehat Maryada, it instructs us as to how we should lead our lives as Sikhs. Among others, it states the following:
- A marriage must be between a man and a woman
- A marriage must be between two baptised Sikhs
- Sikhs are not allowed to pierce any part of their body
It’s fair to say these “rules” are broken by a very high percentage of Sikhs. Pierced earrings are the norm, marrying between religions is now commonplace, why is there a big problem when a couple of the same sex wish to be married in the Gurdwara?
I run a blog called Gay Sikh (http://www.gaysikh.com) where I have explored Sikhism and learnt how homosexuality fits in with Sikhism taking in all the homophobic views I’ve received and tried to understand them.
To anyone out there who is a gay Sikh, or someone who doesn’t know about Sikhism, Sikhism is a very inclusive religion where everyone is welcome, treated equally and never condemned for how they naturally are. Unfortunately for some, culture has influenced their view on Sikhism, which in my opinion is completely flawed


Harry Haller

Panga Master
Jan 31, 2011
Sikh leader: My religion says I can scoff food at a party – but not attend a religious gay wedding

The founder and principal adviser of Sikhs in England says he would be happy to attend the reception of a same-sex couple’s wedding – but not the actual wedding ceremony in a temple.
Harmander Singh made the comments on a BBC Asian Network discussion entitled “Would you go to a gay wedding?”
He told presenter Nihal last Friday: “Well presumably the people who are inviting me are friends of mine because you don’t get these spam invites do you?
“So they would understand that if I was going to be true to my religion, I would be perfectly happy to attend the reception, but not the actual religious ceremony because that would be going against my religion.”
Nihal replied: “So you would go to the party where the food is?”
Mr Singh interrupted to say: “Well absolutely who doesn’t want food yeah,” before adding: “They would understand that it would be putting me in a difficult situation, choosing between my religion and them – and my religion frankly is more important to me.”
Nihal asked: “So you would decline the offer to attend the marriage ceremony?”
Mr Singh replied: “And I think any good friends of mine who are gay – and I do have some friends who may not have come out but we are friends nonetheless – they would understand that I would not be attending their wedding, the religious aspect, as they would also know that I would be perhaps unhappy”.
Along with the Anglican and Catholic churches, Sikh organisations have refused to sanction same-sex marriage ceremonies for worshipers as part of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act for England and Wales.
A Sikh peer last year called for a referendum on same-sex marriage.
Asked if he would be willing to attend a civil marriage ceremony for two Sikh same-sex couples, Mr Singh said: “The politicians have chosen to rewrite English and have new meanings for old words and they are changing thousands of old laws which go back centuries just to accommodate the whims of a few”.
Pressed on whether he would attend a civil same-sex marriage ceremony, Mr Singh said: “Yeah, because to me it’s just another party.”
Nihal said: “So the issue is [same-sex marriage] being in a religious building and specifically the religious building that you find most scared.”
Mr Singh replied ”No I would say I’m not fan of them. It’s the religious ceremony which is being hijacked by people who have no appreciation of respect for it.”
Nihal asked Mr Singh: “So they couldn’t be a Sikh gay wedding ceremony?” He replied: “Not according to the Sikh aspect, the politicians all think they are King James and can rewrite the Bible. They can do that for all I care.”
The presenter then spoke to a lesbian Sikh caller who expressed her opposition to Mr Singh’s views. It was put to Mr Singh by Nihal that the “Guru never said that gay marriage was wrong.” The cleric replied: “The Guru never said that incest was wrong either. So stop being silly”.
He added: “I have drawn a distinction between what I think is a religious aspect, which I am not able to feel comfortable [attending], but I have no problem in a civil [same-sex marriage] because I don’t see that as equal with the religious aspect.”
Mr Singh described his position as a “good compromise”.

Inderjeet Kaur

Oct 13, 2011
Seattle, Washington, USA
Harmander Singh is certainly entitled to his opinion, but he is overstepping his bounds when he declares me not to be a Sikh because I support the right of two consenting adults to marry.

For the anand karaj to apply to a same-sex couple, parts of the SRM would need slight modification. The SRM is a man made document and can be changed when the necessity arises. I think these minor changes, mostly in pronouns, would in no way change the meaning o0f Sikh marriage. Children, an important part of marriage to many, could not be born of such marriages, but that can be overcome in various ways.



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